Jury in rape trial of That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson to begin deliberations

Jurors in actor Danny Masterson’s rape retrial are expected to begin deliberations after lawyers wrap up closing arguments in the case against the That ’70s Show star.

Late last year, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case against Masterson involving rape allegations by three women – with Los Angeles Judge Charlaine Olmedo declaring a mistrial.

Prosecutors said during all-day closing arguments in Los Angeles on Tuesday that Masterson drugged the women in order to assault them, then relied on his status as a prominent member in the Church of Scientology to avoid consequences for years.

“You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice,” Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury of seven men and five women.

“The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over and over again.”

Masterson, 47, has pleaded not guilty to raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003.

His lawyer, Philip Cohen, told jurors during his closing on Tuesday the women’s years-old stories are so full of inconsistencies there is more than enough reasonable doubt for jurors to acquit Masterson.

Mr Cohen emphasised the lack of any physical evidence of drugging, with the investigation that led to Masterson’s arrest coming 15 years after the alleged rapes.

“Miss Anson presented a case as if she was arguing a drugging case,” Mr Cohen said.

“Maybe it’s because there is no evidence of force or violence.”

On Wednesday, Ms Anson’s colleague, deputy district attorney Reinhold Mueller, will finish the prosecution’s rebuttal, which he began late on Tuesday, before the jury goes out.

Scientology played an outsized role during the trial.

Masterson is a member and all three women are former members.

Prosecutors said the institution protected him and helped convince the women they were not raped and could not go to authorities to report a fellow Scientologist in good standing.

The church denied having any such policy.

“Why have we heard so much about Scientology?” Mr Cohen said in his closing.

“Could it be because there are problems with the government’s case?”

Masterson could be sentenced more than 40 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.


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